Monday night saw the Beer Blotter Collective meet up at the blotter home base in Belltown (Seattle, WA) to share some recently acquired brews from East of the mountains.
There was much discussion about the past, present and future of the blog, and we are extremely excited about things to come. We will get into all of that in due time, but for now, here is a little peek into the beer sampling of the evening.
There is some seriously good suds to be sought out over there on the East side. If my reviews pique your interest, take a little day trip and pick some up for yourself. Best to do it now, before those might Cascades are too white with snow to traverse.
Highlander Scottish Style Ale
This Scottish Ale pours a clear amber with a very thin, white head. The scent is very complex and impressive and consists mainly of Belgian spiciness, sweet cherry essence, a lot of caramelized sugar…simply put – rich and fruity candied goodness!. The flavor is mainly of Belgian fruitiness.
The Scotch influence is completely relegated to the finish where a gorgeous, complex maltiness comes through. As it warms, there is some vegetal notes that peek through, but not enough to turn me off.
India Pale Ale
This brew possesses a surprisingly bright orange color with a minimal head of large bubbles. It couldn’t be more obvious that this one is unfiltered due to the shocking amount of sediment suspended in solution.
The nose is fantastic on this one! A lot of grapefruit with enough sweetness to really balance it out. The flavor is equally impressive. The balance is solidified immediately upon sipping. Most of the sweetness is found up front, with an intensely dry and bitter finish. Pine comes through in the flavor profile with near equal measure to the grapefruit. The more I sip on this the more I struggle to quantify the bitterness and sweetness balance. They really seem to battle for supremacy throughout my experience. My mouth is happy to be the grounds for such a clash. This is truly a great IPA!
The third brew of the night…
D2O Heavy Water Stout
This stout pours black with no head at all. The nose is telling that this is a very dry stout. Notes of coffee and earth are most prevalent. Assumptions made after witnessing the head-less pour are proved accurate once experiencing the mouthfeel, which is thin and slick.
An unbalanced bitterness is found in the flavor, mostly reminiscent of iced, black coffee. Immediately following the swallow, my mouth becomes a barren desert. Starting in the back corners of my mouth and soon spreading throughout, a dryness consumes all. The aftertaste does linger amidst it all, and thoughts of chalky, bitter cocoa powder and metallic coffee cans come to mind. Sadly, for me, it’s not entirely pleasant, though it’s worth noting that “dry” and Timperial do not go well together.
Our fourth bottle was the gem of the evening for me…
This stout pours black with a minimal head of a gorgeous rust color. The scent is deep, bold and complex. I’m astounded that this beer smells like this with such a low abv. All signs point to this being an imperial. This is a great start!
Some odors that I gather consist of oily coffee, chicory, licorice, molasses, and wood - both freshly chopped and charred. I feel as though I’m drinking a campfire. A deep waft stings the inside of the nose a bit, but not with alcohol burn, more like the intense smell of fresh mulch on a hot day.
The mouthfeel is luxurious. A very pleasurable carbonation comes through which surprises me. The flavor profile is built with nearly as many components as the nose, with just the right amount of chocolaty sweetness. Notes of coffee, mesquite and dark chocolate are most pronounced. The swallow finishes with a blissful sweetness, and then a moment later…a dash of dryness. Sweet licorice root is abound. This is an excellent brew with, apparently, some serious sessionability. I want more!
The final brewski of the night…
Friar’s Decadence – Chocolate, Chocolate Imperial Stout
The fluid emerges with a blackness and a sharply contrasting, thin white head. Oddly, when the brew is cold, the smell is so far from that of a traditional stout. I’d describe it as being grassy, with a farmhouse sensibility much like that of a saison. If you really seek, there is a little bit of sweet dessert that can be uncovered beneath it all.
As it warms, the sweet, malty attributes become much less subdued. Dark, roasty, chocolatey…all traditional elements of stout malts are at play, but there is a distinct uniqueness here that is mostly due to the Belgian influence that is never lost here. I guess the “Friar” did a little experimenting. This beer is kind of all over the place, but it keeps me interested throughout my time with it.
We also visited Horse Heaven Hill Brewery and Snipes Mountain Brewing. More on those two later this week.
Let us know if you have any East Side favorites!!
I am going to be honest: Do not expect to go to Wenatchee and have an earth shattering tour through beer. It will not happen. In most instances, you probably won’t even be happy. But, I want to make sure that I stress that before diving into this article. You should have zero expectations for Wenatchee – zero. If you start with that point of view, this article will be a bit uplifting.
Wenatchee, WA is a town of roughly 28,000 people situated on the absolutely beautiful confluence of the Wenatchee and Columbia Rivers. In fact, Wenatchee is actually situated on the west bank of the Columbia River with several nice park access points in the city.
Wenatchee is the apple capitol of earth. Seriously. Every single place you look – apples. Apple farm, apple stand, apple cider mill, apple candy store, apple toppings for everything on the menu. You cannot avoid the apple influence on Wenatchee.
Wenatchee is absolutely and undoubtedly gorgeous. One of the most shockingly diverse topographies that I have ever witnessed. The landscape at times looks Amazonian; rolling hills covered in green and shaded by low-flying clouds of moisture. We were most amazed by the contrast of snow-capped mountains with lush jungle-like hills in the foreground. Very amazing.
But the beer – its about the beer on this site. Well if you go to Ratebeer and Beer Advocate you will not find much. Luckily, one chap put up an interesting link to a place called McGlinn’s Public House on Ratebeer. After a brief background check on the place, we noticed an impressive food menu and chatter that they have several house beers. We put them on the list.
Other than that – we just went. We had no other places on the docket. Recent economic woes led to the closing of the only brewery in the vicinity – Cashmere Brewing. Another, Leavenworth Beers, was purchased by Fish Brewing many years ago. Though a new brewery is in the cards for Leavenworth – currently nothing is in the area.
So, we headed to Wenatchee. Weaving along curvy road, through heavily wooded areas and still snowy mountaintops, we found our way to the town in about 3 hours from downtown Seattle.
We first sought out a place to eat lunch. We had to go to the Wenatchee Conference Center for an event later that afternoon, so we had parked the car in the lot and noticed that a wondrous woody scent filled the air. We gazed about the area and located the source: Applewood Grill.
The Applewood Grill kind of looks like your run of the mill family friendly establishment in any small town. Except the fact that an intoxicating aroma emanates from within large stone walls that lay some 100 meters from the banks of the Columbia River. We had to go.
Upon entering we found that the decor was inviting and that they had a sizable bar. Behind that bar lay the glory – roughly 20 taps of micro-brewed ales. Much to our surprise, the bar had an impressive collection of Deschutes Ales, including roughly all year-round releases, plus premium drafts Jubel 2010 and Hop Henge Imperial IPA. Also on the tap were Kona FireRock Pale Ale, Leavenworth Dunkelweiss, Big Al Pale, Big Al Amber and several other enticing beers.
We strolled outside to the patio as the sun was blazing at a scorching 75 degrees. After ordering some Hop Henge we settled on their fish taco and chipotle grilled chicken panini. No lies – really good food. To our surprise, the “fish taco” was actually just one taco. But, the tortilla was massive and it was stuffed with about 1/3 lb of well seasoned fish. The chicken panini was incredible. The applewood grilled chicken was moist, seasoned and delicious.
We returned to the Applewood Grill later that night after finding little else to do. During our return trip, we found that the staff at the place was great. We enjoyed some more Hop Henge, some Jubel 2010 and some of Leavenworth’s delicious dunkelweiss. The owner explained to us that their taps were so heavily saturated with Deschutes beer due to an affiliation with Columbia Distributing. Nice work.
We stayed after the place closed down and enjoyed another round with the bar staff. We really enjoyed this place a lot.
The only other place we visited was McGlinn’s Public House. McGlinn’s had been cited on several reviews as having a bevy of microbrews on tap at all times. Additionally, they boast wood fired over perfect fro crafting amazing pizza.
We headed to McGlinn‘s for dinner at around 6 PM. The place was packed. Luckily, the people waiting all wanted to sit at a table. Ha! who sits at a table when the bar seats right in front of the taps are open!? We nestled up to the bar and took a gander at the list. Its pretty good, offering three house selections brewed by Washington breweries.
The house beers are impressive. First, was a pale ale created by Boundary Bay Brewing – I ordered this one. The other two are a Lager created by lager pros Roslyn Brewing and an amber ale made by Pyramid Brewing.
The rest of the list (which is seen in an image to the right) included three beers from Elysian Brewing, Bear Republic’s Racer 5, and Boundary Bay’s IPA, along with another 10 or so.
The menu is comprised of several wood fired items. Its extremely difficult to choose where to begin. For the first 20 minutes, I was convinced I was getting the ribs, then I wanted the whole chicken, then I wanted the pizza. We settled on the right thing to do – pizza.
But, first we started out with an order of their famous beer bread. Wow. They use a hefeweizen to make the dough and add just a bit of additional sugar to make this the best bread and butter I have ever had. Do not miss out on this item – its like $1.
Next, we grabbed some wood fired nachos! Smothered in lots of great greenery, these nachos were also the best I had had in a long time. Usually we steer clear of nachos – not this time. We weren’t disappointed.
Our pizza was magical. The pepperoni is essentially a fatty smoked canadian bacon. It was absolutely mouth-watering. The crust is wheat, which I typically do not enjoy. Fortunately, the wood fired over seemed to maximize its taste and it served the pizza right.
We ended up remaining here for about 3 hours. The staff, food, beer and atmosphere make this an absolute must if you are in Wenatchee. Today they rolled out a new beer menu too! The new menu features beers from Twisp, WA brewer Methow Brewing. This brewer has always alluded us, but we hear that their beer is quite tasty. Stop in and give it a try.
All in all, we successfully made a beer drinkers trip out of Wenatchee. I hope you will try as well. If you get out there and discover any hidden gems – give us a shout and post a comment!